After rumors of Elisabeth Sladen's demise were rampant earlier today, the unfortunate news has been confirmed.
The BBC is reporting that Sladen passed away at age 63 after an extended battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Brian Miller and their daughter, Sadie.
To audiences in the UK and around the world, Sladen was best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith, when she joined the original "Doctor Who" series in 1973 alongside Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor and later opposite Tom Baker's iconic Fourth Doctor. Sladen left the series in 1976, but continued her association with the franchise though appearances in "The Five Doctors" and the charity short, "Dimensions In Time" in addition to starring in the spinoff pilot, "K9 & Company." To many fans, she was the Doctor's greatest companion.
Although Sladen primarily appeared in stage productions after her time on the series, her enduring popularity as Sarah Jane Smith led her to reprise her famous role in audio plays and finally in the revived "Doctor Who" TV series opposite David Tennant's Tenth Doctor.
With the character reintroduced to modern "Doctor Who" fans, Sladen was soon signed to star in her own spinoff show, "The Sarah Jane Adventures," which ran for four seasons. The fifth season was at least partially filmed at the time of Sladen's death, but no announcement about the fate of that series is currently available.
"I absolutely loved Lis," said Russell T Davies, the creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures. "She was funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah Jane Smith, the world was lucky to have Lis."
Crave Online extends our thoughts and best wishes to Sladen's family and friends.